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Saturday 22nd of November 2008
February 15, 2007

Equities markets mixed as European stocks see declines

by Elaine Frei

Equities markets mixed as European stocks see declines

Retail sectors advanced in Tokyo on Thursday after new gross domestic product figures showed that the Japanese economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent in the last quarter of 2006, above expectations of 3.8 percent growth for the quarter. The Nikkei 225 added 0.81 percent to 17,897.23, its highest close since May 2000. The Topix index gained 0.65 percent to 1,776.71. Department stores and general retail both were helped by the new data. On the other hand, the consumer finance sector was lower on the session.

European equities markets were slightly lower on the session. The Xetra Dax dropped 0.04 percent to 6,958.62, while the CAC 40 fell 0.09 percent to 5,720.88. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 was down 0.1 percent to 1,545.98. Brewers were higher on rumors that Belgian brewer InBev (Euronext: INB; NYSE: ABV) is talking to Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD) of the United States about a merger. The French banking sector saw declines, but luxury goods groups were higher on good results from LVMH (Euronext: MC).

In London, the FTSE 100 was 0.19 percent higher to 6,433.30, while the FTSE 250 added 0.29 percent to 11,574.60. Banks were lower, but brewers and other drinks makers were higher on the rumored InBev/Anheuser-Busch talks and on good half-year results from Diageo (LSE: DGE; NYSE: DEO). Publisher Reed Elsevier (Euronext: REN; LSE: REL; NYSE: ENL; NYSE: RUK) was higher after it said it will sell its educational publishing unit.

New York equities markets were higher at early afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.19 percent to 12,765.97, while the Nasdaq Composite also gained 0.19 percent to 2,493.08 and the S&P 500 was up 0.04 percent to 1,455.89. The Russell 2000 index of small and mid-caps was 0.3 percent higher to 816.41. The gains came despite a slight revision by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke of his Wednesday comments before Congress. Mr. Bernanke said Thursday that the US economy could grow faster than expected, but analysts continued to expect interest rates to hold steady for the time being.

Crude oil prices were lower again as West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 74 cents by midday to $57.26 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil and natural gas prices were also lower. On metals markets, gold prices were lower. Silver and platinum prices also dropped, while among base metals copper added 2.4 percent.

In global currency markets, the yen strengthened the new data on Japanese economic growth, while sterling weakened on a report showing that retail sales in the UK dropped in January. The US dollar was slightly weaker, as well, on reports the US had a net capital outflow of $11 billion in Decmeber against an expectation of net inflows of $60 billion and that industrial output was down in January.

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